Any job these days that involves physical lifting will most certainly train employees in the proper techniques and postures for lifting heavy objects safely. One of the very first things in a new job a recently hired employee will be shown are these lifting techniques that focus on safety. This is usually done with a supervisor often modeling the right way to lift an object, along with demonstrations of the wrong way to lift an object. They will then most likely ask the new worker to demonstrate the proper lifting technique just to be absolutely sure he or she understands, is capable, and can remember the safe way to lift objects, so that common injuries may be prevented.
It may be easy for the new employee to dismiss this training as simply meeting safety requirements and continue to lift things in whatever way is automatic to him or her. He may be focusing on the inventory and what boxes need to be placed in which aisle, absentmindedly bending over at the waist and picking up a heavy box full of soymilk containers, for example. As is often the case, a person will employ poor lifting techniques the way he always has, unaware of the real harm this may cause, and end up with a herniated disc. But what exactly is a herniated disc?
Discs are like shock-absorbers, acting as cushions separating the spinal vertebrae; they are what let you move your backbone in so many different ways. They have a tough outer layer and a jelly-like inner substance. Sometimes a sudden twisting movement will force some of the thick fluid material out of the disc through its outer shell. After the age of 30, the spinal disc begins to lose its jelly-like inner content and becomes less springy and more prone to injury.
“Herniate” means to bulge or stick out. A herniated disc, also known as slipped disc, bulging disc, or ruptured disc, is a rupture of the outer casing of the disc, causing it to bulge. The bulging of the disc can press on a nerve, causing pain in the back and/or the legs. Though often called a “slipped disc,” discs don’t literally slip out of place, as they are always firmly attached to the vertebrae. However, a disc can bulge out beyond its normal position and the outer layer can tear or break, and this is referred to as a herniated disc
A herniated disc can be caused by a heavy strain or increased pressure to the lower back. An individual may be otherwise healthy and fit, and then, only once improperly lift an object over a certain weight, they can injure their spine instantly. Herniated discs can also be caused by repetitive activities that stress the lower back, such as the long-term habit of using a poor lifting technique. When a person bends over to lift something without bending their knees, the weight of the object is centered in the lower back, putting a great amount of pressure on the spine. This may seem okay to do a number of times without any harm, especially if the person is younger. However, habitual lifting in this particular manner puts repeated pressure on the spinal discs, and can often cause a disc rupture.